When I think of West Virgina, I think of dimly-lit coal mines and the soot-covered faces of stoic, hard-hatted men. I think of Appalachia and this 1971 John Denver folk rock classic. It's an area of the country, in my mind, perpetually stuck 50 years in the past. Fairly or not, it doesn't strike me as a bastion of progressive thinking, and it certainly doesn't strike me as a potential hotbed of prizefighting.
So, I'm not surprised when recent regulation of mixed martial arts has been bogged down by politics.
According to the Charlestown Daily Mail, the state athletic commission is proprosing rules which would require promoters in West Virginia to insure every fighter for $100,000 and put forth a $50,000 bond to stage an event. West Virginia requires boxing promoters insure fighters for $20,000 while posting a $20,000 bond to stage an event.
Delegate Randy Swartzmiller believes this is a backdoor effort on the part of Athletic Commission Chairman Steve Allred to keep MMA out of West Virginia:
"This doesn't surprise me," Swartzmiller said. "Steve Allred has made comments that he would set prices so high promoters couldn't come here.
"He (Allred) doesn't care that the people in the state want this," he said. "He doesn't care that the Legislature passed this and the governor signed this.
"He doesn't care because he doesn't want MMA in the state," he said.
Allred responded with typical polispeak:
Allred said he would not speak about the specific proposed rules until the public comment period ended on July 18.
"I have never publicly commented on any rules for anything until after the public comment period has ended," he said.
But Allred did say he thought accusations that the rules were being drafted to keep small MMA promoters from holding events in the state were "ludicrous" because the legislature had voted to legalize the sport.
Which is the sort of thing you'd expect to hear from someone setting up an obstacle course for promoters of an unwanted sport.
The proposed rules would also mandate that all mixed martial arts bouts take place in a cage.
HT: Fight Lawyer